Photo by John Nanako

Tech announced a new interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Quantitative Bioscience (QBioS) at the beginning of September.

In the past few years, Tech has seen Bioinformatics, Computational Science and Engineering, Statistics, Prosthetics, City Planning and Policy, Human-Computer Interaction and countless other interdisciplinary fields move from nonexistence to a large and active part of academia. No longer is it unheard of to have a psychologist working closely with a programmer on a cutting-edge project or for a policy maker to work with a civil engineer on a publication.

These opportunities have given students the ability to be more flexible, to understand how their fields fit with others on a deeper level and to work on problems otherwise potentially outside of academia.

The newest of these interdisciplinary graduate programs is the Doctor of Philosophy with a major in QBioS. Even though the program is new, similar research has been conducted by Tech researchers in the recent past. This August, Jay Forsythe, Ph.D., along with other Tech researchers, published a paper using quantitative and biochemical methodology to suggest a new possibility for polypeptide formation, helping to answer the unanswered questions behind abiogenesis and the origins of life.

Furthermore, using such interdisciplinary methods, scientists have established methodology to prioritize protein research. Using methodologies such as a tool called SAPH-ire, which pinpoints potentially significant processes in 3-D protein structures, researchers can more effectively find leads to the next big breakthroughs in bioscience.

In addition to Ph.D. requirements, such as a coherent minor, thesis and dissertation, students are expected to have at least two group rotations, communication skills and one accepted scientific publication.

Across the entire program, the goal is to apply statistical techniques and advance the frontier of science. The molecular and cellular biosciences unit aims to use molecular dynamics to understand the mechanical properties of cells, while the chemistry of biological systems and physics of living systems units use similar techniques to determine more about the nature of larger-scale life, and the ecology and earth sciences unit takes the same problem at an even larger scale.